Apollomics of Hangzhou announced a $189 million agreement to develop two GlycoMimetics novel E-selectin-based immunotherapies in China for leukemia.
Nanjing's ASK Pharm (Beijing Aosaikang Pharmaceutical) announced a $51 million agreement for greater China rights to a treatment for iron deficiency from Shield Therapeutics of the UK.
Shanghai's Zai Lab has begun enrolling patients in a China Phase II trial of Optune, its Tumor Treating Fields device, in combination with chemotherapy to treat gastric adenocarcinoma.
Deals and Financings
Apollomics of Hangzhou announced a $189 million agreement to develop two GlycoMimetics (NASDAQ:GLYC) novel E-selectin-based immunotherapies in China for leukemia. Apollomics, which was incubated by OrbiMed Asia, will be responsible for developing uproleselan and GMI-1687 in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. GlycoMimetics will receive a $9 million upfront payment and be eligible for up to $180 million in milestones plus royalties. Apollomics is developing five assets: two novel mAbs that restore the body's immune system along with three therapies that target growth signaling pathways.
Zhiyun Health, an online health company focused on diabetes management, raised $142 million in a combined C+ and D round. Founded in 2014 by Kuang Ming, a graduate of Cambridge University, Zhiyun offers comprehensive online health management services including an app that allows diabetes patients to record and track their health data. The app offers advice from doctors and visual interaction, allowing doctors to adjust treatment regimens while the site gives advice on medication, diet, exercise and online health shopping malls. Zhiyun has raised more than $280 million over nine financings.
IOVaxis Therapeutics [OSE: TRVX] of Nantong acquired an option to in-license greater China rights for two Targovax mutant RAS therapeutic vaccines, TG01 and TG02. If the option is exercised, IOVaxis will pay $3 million upfront for the license and Targovax, a Norwegian company, will be eligible for up to $100 million in milestones, plus double digit royalties. RAS mutations are found in over 90% of pancreatic cancer cases, 50% of colorectal cancer and 20-30% of all cancers. Targovax expects its vaccines will induce T-cell immune responses in cancer patients with RAS mutations.
Transcenta Holding of Suzhou completed a $100 million Series B+ financing to support its 10 innovative molecules in oncology, bone disorders and nephrology. Last year, Transcenta was formed through the merger of Hangzhou Just Bio and MabSpace, and the company in-licensed a portfolio of novel bone disease biotherapeutics from Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) including Bloxozumab, an osteoporosis treatment that has completed Phase II tests. Since then, it adopted integrated continuous process and manufacturing in its Hangzhou production facility. CR-CP Life Science Fund and Fortune Capital co-led the B+ round.
Adagene, a Suzhou immunotherapy company, raised $69 million in a Series D financing, including $50 million from lead investor General Atlantic. The company combines computational biology and AI to design novel antibodies. It believes its platform offers new druggable targets and greater binding precision, resulting in a pipeline of novel immunotherapy programs with first or best in class potential. Adagene's lead molecule, ADG106, is an anti-CD137 monoclonal IgG4 antibody being tested in Phase I trials in solid and liquid cancers. Since 2014, Adagene has raised more than $150 million in venture capital.
Nanjing's ASK Pharm (Beijing Aosaikang Pharmaceutical) (SHZ: 002755) announced a $51 million agreement for greater China rights to a treatment for iron deficiency from Shield Therapeutics (OTCPK:SHIEF) of the UK. Shield's Feraccru/Accrufer is a non-salt oral therapy with a novel absorption mechanism that was as effective as a standard IV treatment for the condition. ASK paid $11 million upfront for the China rights and will make up to $40 million in milestone payments, plus royalties. It will be responsible for all China development and will have manufacturing rights to the product.
3D Med Diagnosis, a recent diagnostics spin-off from 3D Medicines, raised $40 million in its debut funding. 3D Medicines was established in 2010 to concentrate on the three D's cancer care: diagnostics, drugs and data. 3D Med Diagnosis owns the company's diagnostics portfolio that offers next-gen sequencing for early-stage cancer detection and precision medicine diagnosis. Its cancer diagnostics include histology genomic tests, ctDNA liquid biopsies and an exosome liquid biopsy. The funding was led by China Resources Pharmaceutical Industry Investment Fund.
RootPath, a Cambridge, MA, biotech with two R&D sites in China, closed an $11 million Series A round to develop a platform that identifies highly personalized tumor-reactive T cell receptors (TCRs) for solid tumor cancers. The company's Synthetic Immunology Platform uses ultrahigh-throughput screening to generate and select TCRs that become personalized T cell therapies and will be affordable for individuals or small groups. RootPath believes its technology, which combines precision medicine with immunotherapy, will make cell therapies effective in solid tumor cancers.
CarrierGene Biotech, a Suzhou company developing reproductive diagnostic tests, has merged with NuProbe Global of Cambridge, MA, a novel diagnostics company. Mr. Yingshuang Chai, co-founder and former CEO of CarrierGene, will be CEO and Chairman of the merged NuProbe Board. BioTrack Capital of Shanghai made an investment of unspecified size in the merged company to support its R&D. The new company, which has R&D labs in Houston and Shanghai and a GMP production facility in Suzhou, will operate under the English brand NuProbe Global and the China brand Yue Er.
Trials and Approvals
Bio-Thera Solutions, a Guangzhou biopharma, reported its Humira (adalimumab) biosimilar has been approved for China use. Qletli, the first Bio-Thera product approved for commercialization and the second biosimilar approved by China's NMPA, is indicated to treat three autoimmune diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and plaque psoriasis. In early 2019, Henlius' biosimilar to Genentech's Rituxan (rituximab) was approved in China to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Bio-Thera is developing a portfolio of biosimilar and novel biologic molecules for immuno-oncology and autoimmune disease.
Shanghai's Zai Lab (NASDAQ:ZLAB) has begun enrolling patients in a China Phase II trial of Optune, its Tumor Treating Fields device, in combination with chemotherapy to treat gastric adenocarcinoma. The TTF technology is a wearable device that uses electric fields tuned to specific frequencies to disrupt cell division, inhibiting tumor growth and potentially causing cancer cell death. Previously, Zai has filed for China approval of the technology as a treatment for glioblastoma multiforme. In 2018, Zai paid $15 million upfront to in-license greater China rights for the Optune device from NovoCure (NASDAQ:NVCR) of Jersey.
Suzhou Innovent Bio (HK: 01801) will test a combination of its approved anti-PD-1, Tyvyt, with Sirnaomics' lead RNAi candidate STP705 (cotsiranib) to treat solid tumor cancers, especially hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC). Tyvyt is approved in China for r/r classic Hodgkin lymphoma. Sirnaomics' STP705 uses a polypeptide nanoparticle (PNP)-enhanced delivery to knock down both TGF-β1 and COX-2 gene expression. STP704 is being tested in China and the US to treat cholangiocarcinoma, non-melanoma skin cancer and hypertrophic scar.
Gracell Biotech, a Suzhou company developing novel CAR-T therapies, has started a clinical trial of GC027, a therapy that uses its off-the-shelf TruUCAR CAR-T technology, to treat patients with aggressive forms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). GC027 is made of T cells from healthy donors, genetically edited by inserting a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) ex vivo to bind and eliminate target T malignant cells. GC027 uses CRISPR genome editing, which is expected to avoid graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) as well as graft rejection.
CStone Pharma (HK: 2616) of Suzhou and Boston's Blueprint Medicines (NASDAQ:BPMC) have started a China Phase Ib/II trial that combines a precision therapy with an immunotherapy to treat hepatocellular carcinoma. The trial will test Blueprint's fisogatinib, a fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) inhibitor, together with CStone's anti-PD-L1 mAb. In preclinical studies, fisogatinib stimulated T-cell infiltration into the tumor microenvironment, which suggests that the fisogatinib/PD-L1 combination may benefit patients with FGFR4-driven HCC. In 2018, CStone signed a $386 million deal for China rights to three Blueprint oncology candidates.
Yisheng Biopharma of Beijing announced a collaboration with Maryland's Tavotek Bio to develop novel multi-specific immunotherapy antibodies. Specifically, the two companies plan to co-develop combination therapies of Yisheng's YS-ON-001/002 and Tavotek's Tavo-301/303 to treat cancer. YS-ON-001/002 are immunotherapy candidates based on the TLR3/RIG-I/MDA-5 signaling pathways of PIKA technology. Tavo-301/303 is a series of novel multi-specific immunotherapy mAbs developed using Tavotek's proprietary TavoSelect Platform.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.